Misunderstandings are always a little funny. The father of my friend was trying to tell us about a pastry we should try and Jake thought he was telling us about shoes (to be fair, it was a French word, so it did sound a little bit like shoes). I was just trying to figure out why they would be selling shoes at a bakery.
Anyway, yesterday, we headed to our first Korean graduation. My friend, Boryung, graduated from her university and invited us to the ceremony. Here she is:
While we were waiting at a subway stop, I noticed some women handing out brochures, and I brushed it off as another sale ad for one of their many malls. We were sitting on a low wall, soaking in the sunshine, and finally, one of them took notice of us. She handed me a packet and brochure and at first, I thought she was trying to sell me something. Everything was in Korean (both her spoken words and all the material she gave me) so it took me a minute to figure out what was going on. Upon looking at the packet, I realized she was witnessing to me.
I don’t know many Korean words, but I am familiar with the words for God and Jesus, among a few others. As I studied the pictures while she talked, I understood that she was sharing the true Gospel. She knew almost no English, but she didn’t let that stop her. She was very nice and in an effort to make conversation with her, Jake asked (in Korean) what he thought was “what’s your name?” After her flustered response, he didn’t go any further. I finally showed her the cross necklace I wear, and made some motions to let her know that I was a Christian and she seemed very satisfied, said what I assume was “God Bless” and went on her way. When she left, Jake said, I don’t know why she didn’t answer when I asked her what her name was? To which I responded, you didn’t ask her what her name was, you asked her how much it costs? (Again, I don’t know much Korean, but I know that market phrase in many different languages)
We had been to church with Boryung this past Sunday and I had talked to my grandma on the phone before we left for the service. She had asked: will you get anything out of the service since it will all be in Korean? And, to answer her question, it is a little bit difficult. I’ve been to a lot of church services in a lot of different languages and it takes some effort to engage in what is going on. However, I am a firm believer that The Lord breaks beyond the barriers of language and I was overcome at this particular church service on Sunday. As I sat there with 300+ Korean believers, I couldn’t help but think of how the Gospel had spread. Presbyterians sent many missionaries here throughout the 19th and 20th century and Christianity spread. Where would this country be without those missionaries? Look at the impact their work is still having decades later. Today, South Korea is second only to the United States in the amount of Christian missionaries that it sends out. In Matthew 5, believers are called to be the Light of the World and the Salt of the Earth. Those Presbyterian missionaries took that call seriously, and because of their work, the Gospel continues to spread.
PS, did I mention that Jake was an honorary graduate, earning his degree in Foreign Studies, yesterday?